Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 21 November 2017

White House military personnel removed amid investigation into contacts with foreign women during Trump’s Asia trip

President Trump and Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang participate in a welcome ceremony at the presidential palace in Hanoi on Nov. 12. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Three military personnel have been reassigned from their White House jobs amid allegations that they had improper contact with foreign women while traveling with President Trump on his recent trip to Asia, according to officials familiar with the situation.

The service members worked for the White House Communications Agency, a specialized military unit that helps provide the president, vice president, Secret Service and other officials with secure communications.

The military is scrutinizing three Army noncommissioned officers who allegedly broke curfew during Trump’s trip to Vietnam this month, officials said.

Mark Wright, a spokesman for the Defense Department, confirmed that the Pentagon is examining the behavior of personnel during the visit to Vietnam.

“We are aware of the incident, and it is currently under investigation,” Wright said.

If found guilty, the service members face the risk of losing their security clearances or could be subject to administrative discipline or courts-martial.

Trump visited Vietnam as part of a 12-day swing through Asia.

The episode comes after four military personnel on the same White House team faced allegations related to their behavior during a trip to Panama in August with Vice President Pence.

Those men — two from the Army and two from the Air Force — stood accused of taking foreign women after hours into a secure area as they were preparing for Pence’s arrival, officials said.

They were flown home before Pence arrived and stripped of their White House assignments pending the findings of the investigation, officials said.

Army Col. Amanda I. Azubuike, a military spokeswoman, said an investigation into the Panama case has been closed and the findings forwarded to senior military officials for review.

She said she was not aware of the final conclusions or disciplinary action.

NBC previously reported that military members on the Panama trip had been removed from White House duty.

Service members with high-level security clearances are expected to report contacts with foreign individuals to ensure that their interactions do not compromise national security.

The mission of the White House Communications Agency is to prevent eavesdropping on presidential communications and to ensure that White House officials can be securely reached worldwide at a moment’s notice.

The agency is part of the White House Military Office, a team of technical personnel traveling worldwide to support presidential trips. The communications agency employs 1,200 staffers drawn from all branches of the military. Many of its personnel are assigned to White House duties on four-year tours.

Spokesmen for Trump and Pence declined to comment and referred questions to the office of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

The alleged misconduct on back-to-back White House trips comes five years after a high-profile episode involving Secret Service agents on a presidential trip.

In April 2012, 13 Secret Service agents and officers were flown back to Washington from Cartagena, Colombia, after being accused of taking prostitutes back to their hotel rooms. The men were supposed to be preparing for President Barack Obama’s arrival for an economic summit in the seaside resort. Ten lost their jobs.

The scandal raised concerns that prostitutes had access to the agents’ rooms and possibly classified information about the president’s movements. The Secret Service director at the time, Mark Sullivan, testified to Congress that the episode was humiliating but said there was never a risk to the president.

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Trump Defends Roy Moore, Citing Candidate’s Denial of Sexual Misconduct

WASHINGTON— President Trump broke with leading Republicans on Tuesday and voiced support for Roy S. Moore, the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama who has been accused of sexual misconduct with teenagers and has seen his campaign’s prospects imperiled.

In his first extensive remarks on the accusations that date back decades, the president cited the vigorous denials by Mr. Moore, who is facing off in a high-stakes special election against Doug Jones, the Democratic candidate.

“He totally denies it,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Moore, who has been accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl and sexually assaulting another teenager.

Mr. Trump also said he was “very happy” that women in the United States are now coming forward with accusations of sexual misconduct against lawmakers and media figures, many of them Democrats.

Asked by a reporter about whether electing “a child molester” was better than electing a Democrat in the Alabama race, Mr. Trump responded by insisting that Mr. Moore denies the charges against him.

“He says it didn’t happen,” the president — who himself has been accused of, and denied, a history of sexual impropriety — told reporters at the White House. “You have to listen to him, also.”

Mr. Trump’s willingness to accept Mr. Moore’s denials underscored the growing Republican divide in Washington, where party officials have worried that their connections to Mr. Moore — a Breitbart News-backed candidate — would taint establishment candidates across the country. Senate Republicans said on Tuesday that they were bewildered by Mr. Trump’s weighing in on the Alabama race after he had remained quiet, and they said that the president had put them in a difficult position.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin said last week that the accusations against Mr. Moore were credible, and called for him to abandon his campaign. Other senators have warned that Mr. Moore could be expelled if he were to be elected in the Dec. 12 vote.

But Mr. Trump set aside those concerns and suggested that a victory by Mr. Jones would jeopardize an agenda that the president’s administration was already struggling to advance. Referring to some of the issues that Alabama voters prize, Mr. Trump attacked Mr. Jones, a former federal prosecutor in Birmingham who is now leading Mr. Moore in some polls that were taken after the misconduct accusations surfaced nearly two weeks ago.

ROY MOORE IS MIRED IN A SEXUAL MISCONDUCT SCANDAL. HERE’S HOW IT HAPPENED.

As voters prepare for the Dec. 12 special election — in which Mr. Moore will be on the ballot come what may — here is a breakdown of The Times’s coverage on the race since the accusations emerged.

“We don’t need a liberal person in there, a Democrat, Jones,” Mr. Trump said. “I’ve looked at his record. It’s terrible on crime. It’s terrible on the border. It’s terrible on the military.”

The president suggested that the passage of time, and the fact that Mr. Moore’s accusers did not come forward earlier, should call into question the accusations. And he noted that Mr. Moore has been elected repeatedly by voters in Alabama.

“I do have to say, 40 years is a long time,” Mr. Trump said as he left for a five-day Thanksgiving vacation at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla. “He’s run eight races, and this has never come up. So 40 years is a long time.”

In a statement after Mr. Trump’s remarks, Mr. Jones’s campaign said, “Doug believes the women, and that the people of Alabama will hold Roy Moore accountable.”

Mr. Jones is scrambling to ensure that Alabamians do not forget the controversy. On Tuesday, his campaign repeatedly aired a new television ad featuring recent comments from Ivanka Trump, the president’s elder daughter, who said that she had “no reason to doubt the victims’ accounts” and that “there’s a special place in hell for people who prey on children.”

Until Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Trump had remained mostly quiet about the accusations against Mr. Moore. He had left it to his press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, to say that the president believed it was up to Alabama voters to decide the race to fill the seat left vacant by Jeff Sessions, now the attorney general.

The White House, though, had begun signaling its worries about the policy consequences of a victory by Mr. Jones. Kellyanne Conway, the counselor to the president, said on Monday on Fox News that Mr. Jones could not be counted on to support the tax changes that Mr. Trump is trying to push through Congress.

“Doug Jones in Alabama, folks, don’t be fooled,” she said. “He will be a vote against tax cuts. He is weak on crime. Weak on borders. He is strong on raising your taxes. He is terrible for property owners.”

Asked whether that meant that the White House was urging a vote for Mr. Moore, Ms. Conway said, “I’m telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through.”

Mr. Trump’s defense of Mr. Moore, who has been abandoned by nearly all of the Republican establishment in Washington, was seen as tantamount to an endorsement.reading the main stor

Mr. McConnell has called on Mr. Moore to step aside as a candidate, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee has severed ties with Mr. Moore, saying it would no longer raise money for his campaign.

Mr. Trump took a different stance on Tuesday, but he also signaled that his public support for Mr. Moore might not be without limits. He declined to say whether he would travel to Alabama to campaign for Mr. Moore before the special election. And the president did not explicitly urge voters to cast a ballot for Mr. Moore.

Mr. Trump’s most recent campaigning in Alabama, where he won 62 percent of the presidential vote last fall, fell surprisingly flat. In September, Alabama voters rejected Mr. Trump’s pleas and chose Mr. Moore over Senator Luther Strange, the White House’s preferred candidate, in the Republican primary.

Yet on Tuesday, Mr. Trump’s bottom-line position seemed to align with many of Alabama’s most influential Republicans. Gov. Kay Ivey has said that she both believes Mr. Moore’s accusers and that she intends to vote for him. And last week, the Alabama Republican Party’s steering committee opted to reaffirm the party’s support for Mr. Moore’s nomination.

Just one statewide Republican organization — the Young Republican Federation of Alabama — has publicly withdrawn its support for Mr. Moore, its steering committee saying in a resolution over the weekend that its “duty is not to the individual candidates but to the longstanding growth and sustainability of the Republican Party.” Senator Richard C. Shelby, the state’s ranking lawmaker, said he would not cast his ballot for Mr. Moore, who was, in effect, twice removed from the Alabama Supreme Court for defiance of federal judges.

In Alabama, Mr. Moore has spent decades amassing a pugnacious and unapologetically controversial record — his views on same-sex marriage and Islam, for instance, are regularly condemned as bigoted and intolerant — that is central to his appeal to many of the state’s voters. Around the time that Mr. Trump addressed reporters on Tuesday in Washington, Mr. Moore’s lieutenants were urging voters to look past the allegations that transformed the Senate race almost two weeks ago.

They again sought to undermine the credibility of some, but not all, of Mr. Moore’s accusers. But they reserved some of their fiercest attacks for the news media and Republican officials, like Mr. McConnell.

“If you can be tricked in two weeks about Judge Roy Moore, then they win,” said Dean Young, a close adviser to Mr. Moore and a failed candidate for Congress. Mr. Young refused to take questions during his appearance outside the State Capitol in Montgomery. Instead, he vowed that the campaign would stop responding to questions about the allegations against Mr. Moore, and he depicted Mr. Jones as a liberal extremist.

And he appealed to Mr. Trump’s popularity.

“We want to send Judge Moore to Washington because Judge Moore will help President Trump get done what needs to get done,” Mr. Young said. “And all this ‘Jerry Springer’ stuff is over.”

Michael D. Shear reported from Washington, and Alan Blinder from Birmingham, Ala. Jess Bidgood contributed reporting from Gadsden, Ala., and Jonathan Martin from Washington.

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David Cassidy, 1970s teen heartthrob, dies at 67

David Cassidy in a 1995 Reuters file photo and (right) with his co-stars in the hit TV show 'The Partridge Family.'
David Cassidy, a singer and actor whose androgynous features and jaunty voice made him a 1970s teen heartthrob on the “The Partridge Family” television show, died on Tuesday at age 67, his publicist said.

Cassidy, who was diagnosed with dementia in his 60s, entered a Florida hospital over the weekend and succumbed to organ failure. He died in the hospital’s intensive care unit, his publicist, Jo-Ann Geffen, said in a telephone interview.

Geffen released a statement from his family that said Cassidy died surrounded by loved ones “with joy in his heart and free from the pain that had gripped him for so long.”

With dark hair cascading over his shoulders, hazel eyes and a look that emulated many rock stars of the day, Cassidy was cast at 19 in “The Partridge Family” for his sex appeal to girls, not his singing. When the show’s producers discovered Cassidy’s melodious voice, he became lead singer in the family band.

He played the teenager Keith Partridge whose widowed mother — portrayed by his stepmother, Shirley Jones — formed a touring pop band with her offspring, traveling to gigs in a multi-colored bus.

The sitcom produced a number of hit songs, including “I Think I Love You,” which reached No. 1 on the Billboard chart in 1970, the year the show debuted.

The Oscar-winning Jones was his mentor as well as his co-star, and the two remained friends and collaborators long after the show ended in 1974.

“At first, David was overwhelmed with the whole thing and his ego blew way up,” Jones told Life magazine in 1971. “And I think he hoped that some of those adoring fans would come a little closer to his own age.”

On his own, as a performer who played guitar and piano in addition to singing, Cassidy sold millions of copies of his debut album, “Cherish,” in 1972. He drew large crowds of mostly teen and pre-teen girls at concerts around the world.

Girls tried to pierce security perimeters to touch the star and spent their allowances on merchandise emblazoned with his image, including lunch boxes and 3-D postcards. His fan club was one of the largest of its kind.

The fandom surrounding Cassidy approached the hysteria of Beatlemania a decade earlier and culminated in a stampede at a 1974 show in London. Hundreds were injured, and a 14-year-old girl caught in the crush died days later.

Cassidy announced soon afterward he would not stage another global concert tour.

TROUBLED LIFE, STALLED CAREER

Cassidy was born in New York City in 1950 to actors Jack Cassidy and Evelyn Ward, and he announced his interest in show business at age 3, when he was coming home in a taxi from seeing his father in a stage show.

After his parents divorced, Cassidy lived with his father and his new wife, Jones. Cassidy appeared in a short-lived Broadway show and had guest roles on television before his breakthrough in “The Partridge Family.”

It would give him the best years, by far, of his career.

Cassidy had an acclaimed guest role on the television show “Police Story” in 1978 and continued to record albums in the decades that followed, with sporadic success on the charts. He also performed in musical theater on Broadway, in London’s West End and in Las Vegas.

But he struggled financially for years and declared bankruptcy in 2015.

Cassidy also confessed to abusing drugs and alcohol and was arrested multiple times for driving under the influence.

He said on the talk show “Dr. Phil” in 2017 that he had to get drunk to visit his mother when she was in the hospital. She died of dementia, as did his grandfather.

Cassidy told People magazine that he was in denial for a time about his own dementia. “But a part of me always knew this was coming,” he said.

Cassidy, who lived in Florida late in life, was married three times and is survived by his son, Beau, and his daughter, Katie, who have both had their own careers in show business.

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Top Eastern Visayas fugitive slain in Tarlac gun battle; 4 others arrested

GoogleMap fix of Fairlane Subdivision in Tarlac City, where the suspect, Genesis Oquendo (inset), died resisting law enforcers trying to serve an arrest warrant. Inset photograph from PNP PRO8.
CAMP OLIVAS, Pampanga – Police on Tuesday gunned down a fugitive considered the Eastern Visayas’ most wanted person during raid at Barangay San Vicente, Tarlac City, authorities here said.

Genesis Oquendo, alias “Etin”, of Calbayog City and alleged leader of Oquendo Criminal Group operating in Eastern Visayas and Metro Manila, met his end at his hideout located at 2nd Street, Fairlane Subdivision.

Chief Supt. Amador Corpus, Regional Director at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Central Luzon Office, told journalists that four other members of Oquendo’s gang were arrested: William Remon, 53, of Bgy. Paulog, Ligao, Albay; Gerome Vasquez, 43, a security guard and resident of Bgy. Banao, Guinobatan, Albay; Henry Palmones, 48, of Guinobatan, Albay and Victor Vasquez, 40, of Bgy. Banao, Guinobatan, Albay.

Oquendo’s group, according to police authorities, operates as a gun-for-hire gang operating around Region 8, the Bicol Region and the National Capital Region (NCR) including the assassination of a Bureau of Internal Revenue executive recently in Makati City.

Senior Supt. Nick Torre, director of the Eastern Samar Provincial Police Office, said Oquendo’s group had been placed under surveillance by Samar police operatives following intelligence reports indicating possible upcoming hits to be carried out in Central Luzon, “specifically Tarlac City.”

Police sources added that Oquendo used to work as the civilian security aide of a prominent politician in Eastern Visayas.

Corpus said joint operatives of the Tarlac City Police and Intelligence Branch and Samar Provincial Police Office proceeded to Zaraga Apartment at 2nd St. to serve a warrant of arrest for three counts of murder issued by Judge Ernesto L. Peñaflor of Calbayog City Regional Trial Court.

Sensing the presence of lawmen, Corpus said, Oquendo opened fire toward the approaching lawmen, prompting the police team to return fire, instantly killing the suspect. The four others surrendered without a fight with their firearms.

Seized from their possession were handguns including two pieces of caliber 45 pistols, calibre 38 revolver and ammunition for different kinds of firearms.

Corpus said the four arrested suspects are being processed at the Tarlac City Police Office for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

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House panel rejects Sereno’s plea to allow her lawyers to cross-examine witnesses in impeach raps

Chief Justice Sereno. Photograph from Philstar.
MANILA, Philippines — Voting 30-4, the House Committee on Justice on Wednesday thumbed down Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno’s plea to allow her lawyers to cross-examine the witnesses in the impeachment complaint filed against her.

The lawmakers who favored the chief justice’s motion were Dinagat Islands Rep. Arlene “Kaka” Bag-ao, Siquijor Rep. Ramon “Rav” Rocamora, and Quezon City Rep. Jose Christopher “Kit” Belmonte, and Agusan Del Norte Rep. Lawrence Fortun.

Earlier, lawyer Carlo Cruz, one of Sereno’s spokesmen for the impeachment case, said that all the chief justice was asking for was for the House to “be fair and follow their own rules as the impeachment proceedings unfold.”

“These rules clearly state the Chief Justice’s right to cross-examine any witness that may be put on the stand. She asserts this right,” he said.

Cruz said that “if Congress remains aligned with the objective of pursuing the truth and upholding due process and fairness, then it is likewise in their interest to uphold the Chief Justice and her legal team’s right to cross examination.”

“After all, cross examination is a tool to ferret out the truth and to provide the committee with a complete picture of the material facts, and not just the side of the complainant. It is the fair, legal and right thing to do,” he added.

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‘WE CONDEMN THIS IN STRONGEST TERMS’ | U.N. rebukes Duterte over attacks vs Callamard

Reuters file photos of President Rodrigo Duterte and Agnes Callamrd, UN special rapporteur on extra-judicial executions
GENEVA — The United Nations human rights office on Tuesday condemned attacks and threats made against its investigators by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and by senior Burundian officials.

“Last week Mr Duterte threatened to slap (U.N. special rapporteur Agnes) Callamard if she investigates him for alleged extrajudicial killings,” U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a news briefing.

“He made the same threat against her in June after she criticized his ‘war on drugs’ campaign which has left thousands dead,” he added, referring to remarks made after her visit in May in an unofficial capacity to attend an academic conference.

The Philippine Supreme Court on Tuesday began hearing arguments in a petition to declare Duterte’s deadly war on drugs, denounced by rights groups across the world, as unconstitutional.

More than 3,900 Filipinos have been killed in what the police called self-defense after armed drugs suspects resisted arrest in the 16 month-long campaign. Critics say executions are taking place with zero accountability, allegations the police reject.

Callamard, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, is an independent expert reporting to the U.N. Human Rights Council. Her planned visit to the Philippines last December was called off because she refused to accept Duterte’s conditions.

Recently she has also been subjected to a “tirade of online abuse, including physical threats, during what appears to be a prolonged and well-orchestrated trolling operation across the internet and on social media”, Colville said.

“We condemn this treatment of Ms Callamard and the disrespect it shows to the Human Rights Council that appointed her in the strongest terms,” he added.

On Burundi, the U.N. rights office has written to the Bujumbura government to demand that officials stop “threatening with prosecution” members of a U.N. Commission of Inquiry that found Burundian officials at the highest level should be held accountable for crimes against humanity, Colville said.

Burundi’s ambassador in New York told the U.N. General Assembly that the inquiry’s report was biased and politically motivated and threatened to “bring to justice” its authors for defamation and attempted detribalization, he said.

Burundi is an elected member of the 47-member Human Rights Council, the main U.N. rights forum.

“All states should cooperate with mandates established by the Council. None of them are established without good cause,” Colville said.

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ONE: Aoki ‘really good’ opponent for Askren’s swan song

That’s why Askren did not hesitate to take on the the former ONE Lightweight World Champion for his swan song on Friday in the ONE: Immortal Pursuit at Singapore Indoor Stadium.

“Shinya is a really good final opponent. Obviously, he is a legend of the sport, and he is a really big challenge on the ground, which is where I like to compete, personally. I am excited for this bout,” said Askren of the ONE Weltwerweight clash.
The former Beijing Olympian is looking to walk away from the sport with a spotless record, but that’s going to be easier said than done against of the best mixed martial artists in Asia.
But that challenge of going out with a victory against a legend like Aoki, who touts an impressive resume of submission victories earning him the monicker of “Tobikan Judan,” is what drew the American fighter to the World Championship bout.
“He is a grappler and has a great skill set that I respect, so I think it will be a great battle,” Askren said of Aoki, who is his teammate at EVOLVE MMA.

Expect the 33-year-old Askren, an outstanding wrestler in his college days, to take the fight to the ground, where he has earned a living through his undefeated eight-year career as pro.
“I said from day one that I am the best in the world at what I do, and this is what I am going to do every single time. I have been saying that since I started in 2009, and I believe it more strongly than ever because I have proved it 17 times now, and I am pumped to prove it again,” he stated.
“He’s going to stick around until I put him out.”

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Ricky Davao: No small roles, only small actors

Ricky Davao, best supporting actor

It’s true that there are no small parts, only small actors,” said Ricky Davao, best supporting actor winner at the 2017 Cinema One Originals Film Festival for his performance in Giancarlo Abrahan’s “Paki (Please. Care).”

 

“A friend of mine called me to say that while this is just a ’small role,’ he really wants me to read the script because I might like it,” Davao said of his namesake, entertainment columnist and talent manager Ricky Gallardo.

“Paki,” about a middle-aged couple and how their love has evolved through the years, likewise went home with the best picture trophy and best screenplay honor for Abrahan.

Abrahan also shared the best director honor with Dan Villegas, who megged “Changing Partners.” Abrahan said: “It’s an honor to stand on stage side by side with Dan. We were batchmates in some film workshops. I guess you can say that we’re each other’s lodi (idol).”

Villegas confessed that the awards he had hoped for his film to win were: best editing (for Marya Ignacio), best actress (for Agot Isidro), best actor (for Jojit Lorenzo) and the Audience Choice (which included a P100,000 cash prize).

“We got them all, and more. I consider the other trophies as bonus,” Villegas told the Inquirer shortly after the awards ceremony held on Sunday night at the Dolphy Theater inside the ABS-CBN Compound in Quezon City.

Giancarlo Abrahan (left) and Dan Villegas, best director winners

He added he was grateful to the jury for granting the best ensemble award to the cast members of “Changing Partners,” a May-December love affair of four couples.

“They were also the actors of the stage play version. Their journey for this film was longer than mine,” Villegas said.

The director added that Cinema One, which funds the annual film festival, once suggested that he conduct auditions for other actors. “I told them that I don’t want to do the film if not with the four,” Villegas recalled. “For me, if it worked [for the stage play], why change it?”

Richard Somes’ “Historiographika Errata” bagged the Jury Prize, as well as the best cinematography for Alex Espartero, and best production design for Donald Camon and Julius Somes.

Mae Paner, best supporting actress —Richard A. ReyesMae Paner, best supporting actress —Richard A. Reyes

Rae Red and Fatrick Tabada’s “Si Chedeng at Si Apple” won for Mae “Juana Change” Paner the best supporting actress honor.

Other winners were: Carl Chavez’s “Sorry for the Inconvenience,” best short film; Dempster Samarista’s “Bundok Banahaw,” best documentary; and Leeroy New for Shireen Seno’s “Nervous Translation, best sound award.

 

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Resigning from politics crosses Pacquiao’s mind

Dismayed by “destabilizers” and politicians with “hidden agenda,” Senator Manny Pacquiao admitted on Tuesday that he has thoughts of resigning from politics.

“Kung tatanungin mo ako ngayon sa pulitika, parang gusto kong madismaya, ma-discourage. Gusto kong umayaw na, ano ba… ganito pala yung pulitika? Kasi hindi ako marunong mamulitika e. Kung ano yug tama, kung ano ang alam kong tama para sa bayan, yun ang isusulong ko, yun ang gusto ko,” Pacquiao said during a press briefing at the Senate.

(If you would ask me today about politics, it is very dismaying, discouraging. I want to give up already. Is this the real politics? Me, I don’t really know how to play politics. Whatever is right, whatever I know is right for the country, that is what I’m going to pursue, that is what I like.)

“Marami akong nadiskubre dito pagdating sa pulitika na hindi mo malaman kung totoo o hindi, maraming nagtatago sa ibang anyo…” he said.

(I discovered a lot when I joined politics—things that you wouldn’t know whether it’s real or not. A lot of them are cloaked behind a different appearance.)

Asked if he is now discouraged to seek a new post in government after his term ends in 2022, Pacquiao said: “Alam mo sinabi ko nga sa asawa ko, sabi ko babe gusto kong mag-resign pero pag umayaw naman ako dito sa pulitika, sino na lang ang taong may puso talaga? Sino na lang ang taong totoong mag serbisyo sa ating gobyerno?”

(You know what? I have told my wife, babe I want to resign but if I give up politics, who would be the one to have a heart? Who would be that person to provide real service to the government?)

Asked why he was disappointed in politics, Pacquiao cited as example some politicians who pretend to help out the poor but only do so because they have their own hidden agenda.

Asked again if he was disappointed by people who were trying to “destabilize” the government, the senator quickly answered yes.

Ayaw ko ng pangalanan, mag-init lang yung ulo ko. Buti na lang hindi ako si Duterte,” he said, referring to President Rodrigo Duterte.

(I don’t want to name names. Gladly I’m not like Duterte.)

Pacquiao refused to identify though the politicians or colleagues who have disappointed him.

“Ayaw kong magsalita ng bad words pero nagagalit ako sa ganyan (I don’t want to say bad words but I hate those kinds of things),” the senator added. /jpv

READ: Pacquiao now a political heavyweight

"Visit Inquirer Sports' The Pacquiao Files (www.inquirer.net/pacquiao-files) for news, features, and other multimedia content about Manny Pacquiao and his upcoming fights."

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'Pathetic,’ ‘laughable,’ says Roxas on move to blame Aquino admin for MRT mess

Former Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II. (File photo by LYN RILLON / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Former Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas III on Tuesday scoffed at attempts to pin the blame on the past administration for the dismal state of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT 3).

“In a word? Pathetic. Dahil walang mapakitang accomplishment sa mga ipinangako, nagimbento ng kasong walang laman, walang basehan sa katotohanan o sa batas para ipakitang may ginagawa sila,” Roxas said in a text message to the Inquirer, apparently alluding to the Duterte administration.

[In a word? Pathetic. Because they can’t show any accomplishments on their promises, they’re inventing a case without substance, without basis in truth or in law to show that they’re doing something.]

 

Roxas was reacting to the plunder complaint the Department of Transportation (DOTr) filed against him and nine members of the Cabinet of President Benigno Aquino III for the allegedly anomalous maintenance deal for the MRT system.

Roxas said that the fact that he was included in the case because he was merely a part of the procurement board was “laughable on its face.”

“I was informed that I have been included in a case filed by the DOTr. According to media reports, I was included because of decisions made by the GPP [Government Procurement Policy] Board of which I was a member in my capacity as secretary,” he said.

“This is laughable on its face. I haven’t received a copy of the complaint and will withhold further comment until I do,” Roxas said.

Earlier Tuesday, the DOTr filed before the Office of the Ombudsman plunder, graft and violation of government procurement act against Roxas, former Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio “Jun” Abaya, former Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, former Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, former Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, former Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, former Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, former Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo and former National Economic Development Authority chief Arsenio Balisacan.

DOTr alleged that Roxas and Abaya, in conspiracy with other Cabinet members and former Transportation officials, amassed wealth from questionable maintenance contracts for the MRT 3.

In the 64-page complaint, Roxas and Abaya were accused of using the maintenance programs for the MRT-3 as a “fundraiser.”

“[They] set into motion a grand scheme of turning the DOTC as a bottomless cash cow, entering into one anomalous procurement project after the other, in order to amass, accumulate and acquire ill-gotten wealth by taking advantage of their official position, authority and influence to unjustly enrich themselves at the expense and to the damage and prejudice of the Filipino people,” the complaint said.

The DOTr likewise included in their complaint sheet former MRT General Manager Roman Buenafe; former Transportation Undersecretaries Rene Limcaoco, Catherine Gonzales, and Edwin Lopez; former Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) officials; and officials of Busan Universal Rail Inc. (Buri); and a certain Marlo dela Cruz. /atm

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